High-pressure oxygen supplies, portable barracks for Chinese troops in Tibet

Chinese media have been highlighting training preparations and combat readiness of PLA troops in Tibet in recent months. According to the official People’s Liberation Army website, all frontline training troops and border outposts have been equipped with oxygen generators and oxygen cylinders.

world Updated: Aug 14, 2018 16:18 IST
oxygen,portable barracks,Chinese troops
In June, Chinese military units stationed in Tibet carried out a drill, to test their logistics, armament support capabilities as well as military-civil integration in Tibet.(Reuters/File Photo)

The Chinese military has set up oxygen stations and introduced high-pressure oxygen therapy and specially designed portable barracks to its troops stationed in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau to boost combat capability in the high-altitude ranges where oxygen levels are low, official media in Beijing reported on Tuesday.

Chinese official media had been periodically highlighting training preparations and combat readiness of PLA troops in Tibet in recent months. According to the official People’s Liberation Army (PLA) website 81.cn, all frontline training troops and border outposts have been equipped with oxygen generators and oxygen cylinders.

Also, the Army Medical University’s Xinqiao hospital in Xigaze, which is close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, is developing a high-pressure oxygen therapy that could effectively solve altitude stress for troops stationed on the plateau, the PLA Daily said.

It said that oxygen therapy, used to cure brain damage and carbon monoxide poisoning, can be calibrated for high altitude. The improved therapy has proved effective against altitude stress. Oxygen stations have been built along border roads for soldiers to recover stamina, the state-run Global Times reported on Tuesday.

“Altitude stress makes troops have breathing difficulties, results in headaches and insomnia,” the daily quoted a former military officer who served in Tibet as saying.

Thin air damages combat capability, lowers troops’ strength and durability, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the newspaper. Applying oxygen therapy helped soldiers recover in harsh conditions and enhanced their combat capabilities, he said.

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Last month, the PLA Daily reported that the special forces of the Chinese military had conducted drills in Tibet, including ground training for helicopter pilots, to test their skills. In June, Chinese military units stationed in Tibet carried out a drill, the first post Dokalam, to test their logistics, armament support capabilities as well as military-civil integration in Tibet.

Earlier, official media had reported about China setting up an unmanned automatic weather observation station in Tibet, close to its border with Arunachal Pradesh, to provide meteorological support for its fighter jets and missile launches.

According to a latest 81.cn report, the PLA is also improving troops’ quality of life.

Beginning last year, it has been replacing the old pre-fabricated houses at Tibetan military bases with portable barracks, specifically designed for plateau areas. The barracks’ design and material make them sturdy, moisture-proof and cold-resistant, even keep the room temperature at 15 degrees Celsius even in the worst of snow storms, the report said.

Equipped with cutting-edge camouflage nets, the barracks are difficult to detect and suitable for field operations, the website reported. Many soldiers and officers suffer frostbite in Tibet, the former military officer said, noting the new facilities provide strong logistical support and ensured the troops’ combat capability.

New barracks and other improvements can let troops have enough rest and guarantee their quality of life so that they can work together with better morale, according to Song. “Logistical support is essential to plateau combat,” he said.

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 16:18 IST